Bob Odenkirk Thought ‘Better Call Saul’ Was a Huge Risk After ‘Breaking Bad’

Comedian Bob Odenkirk’s portrayal of Saul Goodman has earned him many fans over the years. He stole the show as a supporting character in the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad series. And recently, graduated to having his own show in Better Call Saul. But at one point, Odenkirk was hesitant about starring in the spin-off, seeing it as a huge risk.

How Bob Odenkirk ended up in ‘Breaking Bad’

Bob Odenkirk smirking while wearing a suit.
Bob Odenkirk | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Bob Odenkirk’s career leaned more towards comedy before his iconic part as Breaking Bad’s sleazy lawyer. According to Backstage, he was a writer for several comedy shows such as Saturday Night Live. He also wrote for The Ben Stiller Show and Late Night with Conan O’ Brien. But his HBO sketch series Mr. Show with Bob and David was what caught the attention of the Breaking Bad creators.

Breaking Bad showrunners Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould both became fans of Mr. Show. Through the program, they decided Odenkirk had what it took to pull off playing the crooked lawyer. Because of his work, Odenkirk didn’t even have to audition for the role.

“This is a fast-talking, chameleon-like character, and Bob just had this enormous catalog of characters that he played on Mr. Show, ” Gould said. “It felt like: This is probably our guy.”

Bob Odenkirk thought ‘Better Call Saul’ was a huge risk

As many know, Bob Odenkirk’s journey as the criminal lawyer didn’t end with Breaking Bad. The show would go on to produce a spin-off series called Better Call Saul, with Odenkirk the lead star. But as much as Odenkirk was looking forward to the spin-off, he had some reservations.

“I always thought it was a huge risk, and all I wanted was them to do it for their own reasons, and not because I asked them to do it or pressured them to do it,” he said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “So I basically backed off every single time it was suggested to me. I think Vince might have thought it was kind of weird to suggest to an actor, ‘What if I create a show for you?,’ and have that actor look at him and go, ‘I dunno. It’s your free time. Do what you want with your time.’”

Odenkirk also wondered how they were going to make Saul likable, as he asserted he wasn’t fond of his character. But to the Nobody star, they were able to make it work.

“They made him such a likable guy, and yet kept it organic,” Odenkirk continued. “It’s not a completely different person, but I really like the guy.”

The advice Bryan Cranston gave Bob Odenkirk

Handing off the baton to Bob Odenkirk, his former co-star Bryan Cranston gave the actor some much-appreciated advice for the role. He shared this heart to heart in an interview with the off-camera show.

“I did sit down with Bryan,” Odenkirk said. “And I said, ‘How do you do this job? And Bryan was being very encouraging to me and supportive and saying things like, ‘You can do it, man. You’re up for it. These guys are gonna write you a great thing.’”

Odenkirk reassured Cranston that he knew he could do the job. But rather, Odenkirk was asking what Cranston’s day looked like as a leading actor. Cranston told Odenkirk that being a leading man consisted of simply making sure he got to set and studied his lines.

“That was reassuring,” Odenkirk said of Cranston’s advice. “You just work constantly and you’ll be ok. And that’s what I did.”

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